Picks and Pans Review: The Iron Hand of Mars

updated 10/18/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/18/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Lindsey Davis

Davis does her homework, but her historical mysteries read like rowdy entertainments, not lessons. This one, set in Rome in A.D. 71, is the fourth Herculean labor of Marcus Didius Falco, a lowly private eye whose main client is the Emperor Vespasian. Davis's recurring theme is the hard slog of pacifying the frontiers, this time in Germania and Gaul, and she deftly prefigures the culture clashes of modem Europeans. (Crown, $20)

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